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Dental or Orthodontic Emergencies

As a general rule, you should call our office when you experience severe pain or have a painful appliance problem you can’t take care of yourself. We will schedule your appointment as soon as possible to resolve the problem.

Dental Emergencies

As a parent, it is not always easy to determine when a child needs immediate attention. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call our office. One of our doctors is on call 24 hours, 7 days per week to give advice over the phone or assist you in the office as needed. 

Orthodontic Emergencies

Orthodontic emergencies are rare, but when they occur we are available to you. You might be surprised to learn that you may be able to solve many problems yourself temporarily until you can get to our office. See below for more information.

Dental Help


Dental pain can range from minor gum irritations to severe tooth infections. As a general rule, pain needs to be addressed quickly if it happens spontaneously, keeps your child awake at night, or doesn’t respond to pain relievers.

Cut or Bitten Tongue, Lip or Cheek

You may apply cold compresses to injured areas to help control swelling and bleeding. If bleeding cannot be controlled by simple pressure, call our office or take your child to a hospital emergency room.

Knocked-Out PERMANENT Tooth
  • Handle the tooth by the crown, not by the root.
    Briefly rinse the tooth with water to remove dirt.
  • DO NOT clean the tooth with soap or handle it unnecessarily.
  • Inspect the tooth for fractures. If it appears whole, try to reinsert it into the socket. The tooth should displace the blood clot relatively easy. If excessive force is needed, do not continue to reinsert the tooth.
  • Have your child bite on gauze to hold the tooth in place.
    If you cannot reinsert the tooth, transport the tooth in a cup containing MILK or your child’s SALIVA.
  • You should contact a dentist IMMEDIATELY! Time is a critical factor in determining the long-term outcome for the tooth.
Knocked-Out PRIMARY (Baby) Tooth
  • DO NOT try to reinsert the tooth.
    You may apply cold compresses to injured areas to help control swelling and bleeding.
  • Baby teeth are not reinserted because of the potential for damage to developing permanent tooth buds. Usually this type of injury does not need immediate follow-up.
  • Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions, or if your child sustained other injuries.
Chipped or Fractured PERMANENT Tooth
  • Rinse the mouth with water and apply cold compresses to reduce swelling.
  • Locate any broken tooth fragments, place them in milk, and bring them with you to the dentist.
  • Contact our office as soon as possible.
  • Not all fractured permanent teeth need immediate attention; however, the outcome for a tooth with a complicated fracture can significantly improve with prompt treatment.
Chipped or Fractured PRIMARY (Baby) Tooth
  • Usually this does not require immediate attention if the fracture only involves the outer shell of the tooth.
  • If a larger part of the tooth is fractured you should contact our office. We will help determine if your child should be seen immediately.
  • Small fractures of primary teeth are very common. This is particularly true when children are learning to walk.
Severe Blow to the Head

Take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room immediately, especially if your child loses consciousness or experiences vomiting.

Possible Broken or Fractured Jaw

Keep the jaw from moving and take your child to the nearest hospital emergency room.

Orthodontic Help

General Soreness

wax on bracesWhen you get your braces on, you may feel general soreness in your mouth, and teeth may be tender to biting pressures for three to five days. Stick to a soft diet until your teeth do not hurt to chew. Irritated gums and other sore spots can be relieved by rinsing your mouth with a warm salt-water mouthwash. Dissolve one teaspoonful of salt in eight ounces of warm water, and rinse your mouth vigorously. If the tenderness is severe, take Acetaminophen (Tylenol) or whatever you normally take for headache or similar pain. Aspirin, Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) and Naproxen Sodium (Naprosyn, Anaprox) actually slow the tooth movement, so it is not advisable to use them frequently while wearing braces.


The lips, cheeks, and tongue may become irritated for one to two weeks as they learn a new posture and become accustomed to the surface of the braces. You can put wax on the braces to lessen this. We’ll show you how!


Wax Bracket

Loose Band or Bracket

If your bracket or band is still attached to the wire, you should leave it in place and put wax on it if needed for comfort. If the bracket or band can be removed easily, place it in an envelope and save it to bring to your next appointment. Call our office to schedule a repair appointment if a bracket or band is loosened or removed. As repair appointments are longer, this may not be able to be done during your regular appointment time.

Loose Wire

Try to place the wire back in place with tweezers. If you cannot put the wire into a comfortable position, and covering the end with wax doesn’t help, as a last resort use a fingernail clipper to clip the wire behind the last tooth to which it is securely fastened. If the end of the wire is still sharp place wax on it.

Poking Wire

poking wireSometimes as teeth shift, the ends of the archwire will start poking out of the back of the last brace and may begin irritating the cheeks. Fortunately, most times this can be handled at home very simply with some orthodontic wax. It is important to try and dry the area first (with a paper towel), then roll up a piece of wax into a ball.
Place the ball of wax into the area of the poking wire. The wax will smooth the area and keep the tissue from getting caught on the end.

Nail clipper for poking wire

If wax is not helping to alleviate the discomfort, use a pencil eraser to push the poking wire down or away from the cheek so that it is no longer poking. If the wire is painful, you can cut it with nail clippers or scissors that have been washed and sterilized in alcohol. If you cannot resolve the wire irritation, call our office for an appointment. If the wire will not move, cover the area with wax or a small piece of cotton and call the office to schedule an appointment.

Lost Separators

Some patients will lose a separator during their treatment. Do not worry about losing a separator, but call our office to see if it needs to be replaced.


Sometimes discomfort is caused by not wearing the headgear as instructed by your orthodontist. Please refer to the instructions provided by your orthodontist. If the facebow (metal piece) is bent, please call our office for assistance. The headgear should hurt less the more it’s worn, so be sure you get in the prescribed number of hours.

Call as soon as possible

After alleviating your discomfort, it is very important that you still call our office as soon as possible to schedule a time to repair the problem. Allowing your appliance to remain damaged for an extended period of time may result in disruptions to your treatment plan.

If you are currently experiencing a dental emergency call 401-828-1171

Our office offers 24 hour emergency coverage. A doctor will ALWAYS be available to provide care to our patients for both pediatric dentistry and orthodontic emergencies. We believe that if you cannot reach your pediatric dentist or orthodontist you should find a new one.